Did the Vikings visit Dundee?
The Big clue we have is that Dundee has two patron saints - St Clement and St Mary/The Madonna/ The Virgin Mary. The Virgin Mary as a patron saint probably arrived with the dedication by the Earl of Huntingdon in the late 12th century and St Clement would have been adopted earlier.
St Clement (first century AD) was martyred by being tied to an anchor and thrown from a boat into the Black Sea and thus became the patron saint of mariners.The Vikings, when converted to Christianity, also adopted him and chapels were established at landfall.
Thus we have St Clement Danes on the Thames, at Dingwall and at Footdee in Aberdeen.The site of the original St Clement’s Church in Dundee is now under the City Square. In the 11th century this would have been near the riverside.
The original 1857 map showing the site of the church held in the archives.
The other pointer is that Earl David of Huntingdon negotiated a trading agreement for his burgesses (merchants) with King John of England in 1199. Unfortunately the city’s copy of this agreement was destroyed in the Wars of Independence, but there is evidence of this on the John’s roll in The National Archives in Kew. The trading agreement is extensive, excluding only London.
King John was not the most generous of monarchs so we can assume the agreement cost David money.
You don’t negotiate a trading agreement unless you have the kit and the market to pursue trading, so by 1199 Dundee was already wealthy, had a merchant fleet and merchant trading routes.These would have taken at least 100 years to develop, so the only way that could have happened is with Danish influence.
Although one of the origins of Wormit in Fife is thought to be from the Scots “wormwood”, another theory is that the “worm” element could be “dragon” and a name brought by the Danes.
The Statistical Accounts written by ministers of the kirks in Scotland give one or two folklore hints. One from the 1790s from Inverkeillor talks of oral traditions of “Danish camps” and a farm called “Denmark”.
The other from the 1830s from Kirriemuir talks about the researches of Dr Jamieson in finding local words with origins from Iceland, Sweden and Denmark.
St Clement's Lane, Dundee which went down the east side of the old Town House (The Pillars) to the Shore.
The lane was demolished to make way for the Caird Hall complex and the City Square in the early 1900s.
This lane gave access to St Clement's manse. In 1589 the Grammar School of Dundee was built here. Wallace's Auld Dundee Pie Shop was sited in this lane before moving to Castle Street.
Photograph by kind permission of Leisure and Culture Dundee